Russell Marshall’s Column

Founders of UN would be dismayed by today’s world

By Russell Marshall

I suspect that many of those involved in the post war establishment of the United Nations would be dismayed at some aspects of today’s world.

Syria and North Korea in particular come to mind at present.

Admittedly, the super powers of the day were seriously at fault in entrenching the then five major players permanently on the Security Council.

Permanent membership of any kind now seems at least debatable. The membership of the United Kingdom and France and exclusion of Germany and Japan were mistaken to say the least.

NZ opposition to the veto

The power of veto was even more unwise. It is to New Zealand‘s lasting credit that at the time ours was the busiest and loudest voice of protest, led by Prime Minister Peter Fraser and Carl Berendsen.

Nevertheless the founders would surely have believed that by the 21st century, the world would have become a much more peaceful place, overseen and made possible by an unfettered United Nations and its various agencies.

But excessive nationalism still prevails, and the unspoken influence of oil continues to undermine stability in the Middle East in particular.

It is bad enough that gun-loving Americans are happy to use unmanned drones to kill chosen individuals anywhere in the world, but why on earth are there still nuclear weapons?

World dynamics are changing

As has always been the case, the dynamics of world ‘leadership’ are still changing.

The pre-eminence of the United States, especially since the end of the Cold War, is now gradually dissipating, and we are seeing the rise of China, with other players such as Brazil and India also flexing some economic strength and muscle.

It is to be hoped that the strongest and most influential governments of the future will not continue the practice of unilateral intervention.

There are other major current practices which will also need to change if our world is to survive long term.

Nowhere is this more obvious than the way in which our so called democracies now work.

How NZ democracy could be improved

Closer to home, if we were starting from scratch in this country today, I hope that we would produce a parliamentary system and practice much more credible and accountable.

I would be more confident about the future if we could also find ways to ensure that people were elected because of acknowledged wisdom rather than media slickness or blind party loyalty.

Two other areas of present accepted practice which warrant serious questioning are the private ownership of all banks (except Kiwibank) and the lack of effective accountability from privately owned media.